14 Easy Ways to Jump-Start Your Metabolism

Updated: Nov. 07, 2020

These simple tweaks to your daily routine will boost your weight loss in no time!

women and men in a workout class doing pushups

Use interval training to rev up your workout

Walk for the same amount of time at the same intensity day in and day out and your body will get as bored with your workout as you do. Throw in some variety with interval training, which involves changing the intensity of your workout throughout your exercise session. “The metabolic processes that must occur during a HIIT workout require much more ‘participation’ from your cells than a lower-intensity workout like walking,” explains Lesley Bell, who has a bachelor of science and is a Personal Trainer and Brain Health Coach at Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. “There is much more depletion of nutrients and minerals during an anaerobic workout like interval training, so drinking afterward, especially on an empty stomach, is going to leave you vulnerable to a toxicity much quicker.” Learn more about how to rev your metabolism with high-interval training.

business man drumming his fingers on a table


People who fidget—drumming their fingers or bouncing their knees—burn a significant amount of extra calories a day, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. That adds up to losing one pound a week. Learn why teachers are giving some kids fidget spinners.

woman sitting at a laptop and squeezing a ball in left hand
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Squeeze a small ball frequently during the day

It’s one of the few exercises you can do at any time—and it helps reduce stress, which can affect your metabolism, according to a study published in Biological Psychiatry. You’ll build up the muscles in your hands—and muscle, wherever it is, burns a lot of calories. Check out these other 15 ways to burn extra calories without going to the gym.

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Don’t starve yourself

Cutting out too many calories can backfire in more ways than one. “If you abstain from food, especially carbs, your metabolism may not react the way you want it to—in fact, it might slow down,” warns Caleb Backe, CPT, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. Try to subsist on morsels and your metabolism will slow down so much that you’ll not only stop losing weight, but you’ll be lucky if you can peel yourself off the couch.

young woman sipping a glass of water

Put five rubber bands around your wrist every morning

That’s how many 16-ounce bottles of water you should drink during the day to rev up your metabolism, helping to burn more calories. At least, that’s what German researchers found when they got 14 participants to drink about 500 ml of water. The volunteers’ metabolic rate—or how quickly they burned calories—jumped a third within 10 minutes of drinking the water and remained high for another 30 or 40 minutes. The researchers estimated that, over a year, increasing your water consumption by 1.5 liters a day would burn an extra 17,400 calories or about 2.25 kg (5 lb) worth. Since much of the increased metabolic rate is due to the body’s efforts to heat the liquid, make sure the water you’re drinking is icy cold.

assortment of hot peppers

Turn up the heat with hot peppers

Some studies show that very spicy foods can temporarily increase your metabolism. Specialty grocers often stock many different kinds of peppers. Buy one type a week and add some to various meals. Spice up your scrambled eggs with minced jalapeño, add a little fire to beef stew with half a Scotch bonnet pepper. Learn more about how hot peppers help you burn extra calories.

man outside in running shoes on a path
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Exercise outside

Maybe it’s the fresh air, maybe it’s the sunshine, but something about exercising out in the open makes you walk or run faster than doing the same exercise in the gym. “The air inside of gym can get very stale and pounding on a treadmill can make you feel like a hamster on a wheel,” says Brooke Taylor, fitness instructor and creator of TF IGNITE and Taylored Fitness. “Exercising outside can push you to go further distances by focusing on landmarks or simply because you get lost in your surroundings.” These are the 15 exercises that burn the most calories.

woman eating a bowl of fruit with yogurt

Eat five small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals

You might think you should eat less often if you want to lose weight, but that’s just not the case. By eating every few hours, you keep your metabolism fired up and ensure it doesn’t slow down between meals in order to hang on to calories. It will also ensure that your blood sugar remains steady, notes Hope Pedraza, ACSM-certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, and founder of inBalance in San Antonio, TX. A ‘meal’ can be as small as a cup of soup. Make sure you don’t follow these 15 weight-loss tips that doctors want you to stop following.

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Sip a couple of cups of coffee throughout the day

Studies find that the caffeine in coffee increases the rate at which your body burns calories. This does not mean, however, that you should order a fancy calorie-packed frappuccino. And skip the espresso if it makes you toss and turn at night. Find out the one ingredient you should add to your coffee to boost your metabolism.

woman standing on tiptoes on a scale

Don’t worry if you’ve been yo-yo dieting

There’s a myth that if you’ve spent your life losing and gaining the same 10 to 20 lb, your metabolism gets out of kilter and ends up slowing right down. Don’t believe it. When researchers from the University of Houston reviewed 43 studies on the topic, they found no difference in the metabolic rates of yo-yo dieters compared to those of everyone else. Don’t miss these other 11 metabolism myths that keep you from losing weight.

Elderly couple walking outdoors in a field
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Walk with intent—and intensity

Short bouts of Nordic walking has shown great benefits on slowing muscle and bone loss in elderly women, notes Roger E. Adams, PhD, personal trainer, doctor of nutrition, and owner of eatrightfitness. “Nordic walking is walking with longer leg strides and arm swings while using poles, similar to ones used in cross-country skiing, and can be done just about anywhere and can provide an intense workout quickly.”
Burn more calories in the same amount of time with these strategies:
1. Swing your arms when you walk. You’ll burn 5 to 10 percent more calories.
2. Wear a weighted vest – another great way to burn calories. But leave the hand and ankle weights at home. They throw you off balance and could result in injury.
3. Walk on grass, sand or a gravel path instead of the road. It takes more muscle power to glide smoothly over these uneven surfaces (especially sand) than over asphalt.
4. Use walking poles. A U.S. study found that you get a much more intense workout than you would without the poles.
5. Walk along the shore of a river or lake with your ankles in the water. The resistance burns more calories and gives your muscles an added workout.

a plate of sliced meat, avocado, and tomatoes with leafy greens
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Increase the protein in your diet

There is some evidence that if you increase your protein intake to the upper end of the recommended range (roughly 20 per cent of overall calories), the amount of energy you expend at rest will remain the same even while you’re losing weight. Normally, as you lose weight, your body adjusts and you burn fewer calories at rest. Try these other 12 tips for getting the metabolism of a 25-year-old.

smoothie in a tall glass surrounded by banana slices, bananas, and peanuts in the shell

Don’t skip out on a post-workout snack

Chowing down on a snack after the gym doesn’t just refuel your body, it may boost your fat burn too. A small study published in Frontiers in Nutrition showed that middle-aged exercisers who drank a 270-calorie shake filled with 24 grams of protein and 36 grams of carbs after a strength and endurance training session lost about four pounds more fat and created one and a half pounds of more lean muscle in six months than exercisers who didn’t drink the shake.

This research reconfirms that giving your body extra protein and carbs following an exercise session can help build lean tissue and promote fat loss. Experts believe that the body makes muscle proteins faster when you get protein after exercise.

The perfect balance of proteins and carbs could be a simple snack such as a banana with peanut butter or a couple of slices of turkey and cheese with apple slices.

woman sleeping peacefully on her stomach
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Don’t underestimate the power of a full night’s rest

A lack of snoozing can elevate your cortisol levels, a stress hormone that makes you hungrier and slows down your metabolism. In fact, sleep deprivation can decrease your leptin levels, the satiety hormone, which can tell your brain to eat more calories than you actually need. One study published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews linked chronic sleep loss to a reduction in metabolism. Make sure you know these other 23 lazy ways to burn more calories all day.